A glorious day of College Football lies before us as several games with Playoff implications will be played.
The CFP Selection Committee introduced their first ranking earlier this week. Here is a look at how that ranking looks.
We talked about the implications of these rankings for the PAC 12 in our weekly picks piece. The reality is that there are still several instances of teams in the top 20 playing teams that are ahead of them not to mention the fact that conference championship games will surely further thin out this list.
It is likely, however, that the group of four will ultimately come from the list above. This list is surely to further shrink after this weekend. Here are some of the things I'll be watching.
1. #2 LSU at #4 Alabama (-7)
This is the big one. The SEC is very well positioned to put two teams into the playoffs, but much depends on the LSU remaining undefeated going into the SEC Championship game. For that to happen, the Tigers, the "Hat" and Heisman hopeful Leonard Fournette have to go through the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa.
Should the Tide find a way pull this one out, and FPI gives them a 59% of doing so, it would put the SEC back on a "one-team" scenario and, possibly, a "no-team" scenario (which could happen if Ole Miss - who beat Alabama before - wins the SEC) opens up.
So, yeah, no drama here.
2. #17 FSU @ #1 Clemson (-10.5)
Clemson can put a stranglehold on a playoff berth with a win over FSU. The Seminoles, on the other hand, need the upset in order to get themselves squarely back into the picture. On paper, it is hard to see how that might work out for Florida State. Clemson, though they have a long history of choking late in the season, have a number of advantages. The Tigers average over 40 points a game and, even more impressively, only surrender 18 points per contest. It will take a remarkable effort from Jimbo Fisher and his talented by inconsistent roster to overcome the rolling Tigers.
3. #8 TCU vs #16 Oklahoma St (+5.0)
We now get to see the separation of the Big 12 begin to happen. It's hard to believe that we are so deep into this season and still we don't have a clue who is the better between TCU, OKST and Baylor or if any of them are actually any better than Oklahoma.
Today the separation begins. TCU brings one of the best QBs in the nation to a matchup against a team that is likely to feature a QB rotation. Both teams are offense first. Neither team averages less than 500 yards per game and both boast a scoring average more than 44 points per contest. OKST is a 5 point home dog and FPI has assigned a 68% probability of a TCU victory.
4. #7 Michigan State at Nebraska (+5.5)
This matchup against "new" Big Ten rivals certainly has playoff implications but, even more so, this one is about pride. The Spartans need this road win in order to keep pace with Ohio State and keep their playoffs hopes alive. The 3-6 Cornhuskers are in a completely different boat. As noted by Ted Miller in his overly gratuitous rip-job on Mike Riley earlier this week, things haven't gone to plan for the Cornhuskers this year. They have lost five games by a total of 13 points with several of them coming "in the last moment" despite the fact that they are breaking in a new coaching staff.
This is my upset pick of the weekend. The 'Huskers are getting 5.5 points as a home dawg and FPI would suggest that this is a good deal for MSU as that measure sees a nearly 70% probability of a win for the Spartans. Still, There is a certain desperation for Mike Riley and his new team. They have to win out, including notching wins over both MSU and #9 Iowa, in order to get bowl eligible. I don't know if they can get there, but I expect that fact alone to be motivation enough for this team to beat the spread if not to outright win.
There you have it folks. This is your open thread. Enjoy some football today.